Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder that occurs when acidic juices, food and fluids of stomach flow back up from the stomach into the esophagus. GERD affects people of all ages - from infants to older adults. This acid reflux may irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid reflux caused by GERD. Some people experience acid reflux from time to time like mild acid reflux may occur at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux may occur at least once a week.
Most people can manage GERD with lifestyle modifications and diet changes. But some people with GERD may require medications or surgery to ease symptoms. If GERD is not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems.
Common signs and symptoms of GERD may include: -
Burning sensation in chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might get worse at night
Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
- Chronic cough
- New or worsening asthma
- Disrupted sleep
- Laryngitis or hoarseness
- Inflammation of the gums
Several tests may be used to diagnose GERD including:
X-ray of the upper digestive system
Endoscopy (examines the inside of the esophagus)
Ambulatory acid (pH) test (monitors the amount of acid in the esophagus)
Esophageal impedance test (measures the movement of substances in the esophagus)
Treatment and Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
There are different approaches for managing and treating GERD:
- Lifestyle & Dietary Changes
Doctors may recommend lifestyle and dietary changes for most people requiring treatment for GERD. This aims at decreasing the amount of reflux or reducing damage to the lining of the esophagus from refluxed materials. Some of the Lifestyles changes suggested are as below:
Avoid triggers: Avoidance of specific foods and eating before lying down are recommended for those having GERD symptoms. Food that may precipitate GERD include coffee, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods, acidic foods, and spicy foods.
Staying at healthy weight: Weight Loss may also be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of symptoms.
Eat smaller meals more often.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.
Various medication options are available such as Over-the-counter-medicines or Prescription medicines to manage GERD. These include: -
- Antacids: Antacids neutralize the stomach acid. These provide quick relief, but alone won't heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid.
- Medications to reduce acid production: These medications also known as H-2-receptor blockers don't act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours. Stronger versions of these medicines are available by prescription.
- Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus: These medications also known as proton pump inhibitors are stronger acid blockers and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal.
- Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors: These are generally well-tolerated, but in some cases might cause diarrhea, headache, nausea and vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter: Some medication may ease GERD by decreasing the frequency of relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter.
If medications don't help with symptoms or because of side effects of taking them, the doctor might recommend surgery like one of the following to tighten your esophagus and control acid reflux while still letting food pass through:
Linx surgery: Surgeon wraps a ring of tiny magnetic beads around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid, but weak enough to allow food to pass through the junction.
- Nissen fundoplication: Surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the lower part of esophageal sphincter, to tighten the muscle and prevent reflux.
GERD is a minor condition. In case of persistent development of the disease, it can take a week or a couple of months to get treated. In case of surgery, recovery time will depend on the surgery and how invasive it is. For some simple surgeries one will be discharged from the hospital the very next day but the recovery can take up to 8 to 10 weeks. Prior to any surgery for GERD, the doctor will try dietary changes, then medications. If those do not give any relief then, surgery will be suggested by the doctor.
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For more information and getting a tailor-made treatment plan for your Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) treatment in India, please mail us your medical history at email@example.com